Facebook Groups used to be the easiest and cheapest way to engage an online community. But recent changes to Facebook mean that’s no longer the case. So whether your community group is for a business, brand or band you may be evaluating options for alternatives to Facebook Groups.
Despite Facebook having a large user base on its social network, a lot of people are now looking for alternatives to engage their communities. For many, the pull towards using Facebook as a group community platform stemmed from the wide user-base. It’s estimated that 2.7 billion people use Facebook so it makes sense that you’d want to host your community there.
With recent data scandals like Cambridge Analytica, it’s fair to assume community managers are eager to take back control of their data and work with a platform that works with them.
Why brands are looking for alternatives to Facebook groups?
Even if you think it’s a good idea to host your community on Facebook because your people are already there, you need to factor in that there’s a tonne of distractions on Facebook itself and your group is one of many notifications a person might receive.
When you separate your community from the noise of the other Facebook features, you’ll see higher engagement. Some Social networks like Twitter, Tumblr, Youtube, Instagram and LinkedIn try to develop a Sense of community but given the Social features they offer, it’s much more difficult to actually build and foster the community you curate on these platforms.
And when it all comes down to it, the content on your site is important but not as important as the community itself.
Reason 1: Reach is at an all-time low
It’s getting harder to reach your audience on Facebook. News Feeds are so filled with clickbait, fake news and distractions that Facebook has to use its EdgeRank algorithm to work out which posts to show to whom. The newsfeed algorithms decide what your users do and don’t see. It’s becoming a pay to play service more each day. What’s more, given the linear aspect, if you have a buzzing community, content that was once popular can disappear further down the feed, especially with ongoing conversations.
And this algorithm is always changing. Just recently, Facebook changed the way its algorithm prioritises and delivers content to groups. As a result, you’ll now reach only 1-2% of your Facebook audience when you post, making it really difficult for you to deliver engaging content and messages to your community.
Reason 2: No Monetisation options
Facebook Groups are quick and easy to set up as there are only a few options to choose from. This may sound like a positive. But, actually, it means that Facebook Groups are inflexible and offer only a few options for customisation.
Monetisation is key for a lot of Community Managers, but Facebook Groups don’t offer any built-in options for subscriptions, eCommerce or donations. As a result, paid membership communities who rely on subscriptions have had to find alternative solutions for paid membership space. The same is true for charities, churches and faith organisations who rely on donations to sustain their communities. This is one of the main reasons business are looking for alternatives to Facebook Groups.
Reason 3: You’re not in control
It’s really important to remember that Facebook is owned and controlled by someone other than the users. And that leaves brands with little complete control and vulnerable to any changes to the platform. Just recently, a number of brands – such as LittleThings – were put out of business by a change to the Facebook algorithm, which deprioritised content from brands and publishers.
When you can’t control the platform, you’ll fall into a number of problems. If Facebook suddenly decided to get rid of the group feature, your entire community would be lost.
It’s also important to remember that you don’t own your audience’s personal data on Facebook. All you can access is aggregated audience data displayed in specific formats. This stops you from taking that information elsewhere and reaching your audience via other platforms. It also stops you from fully understanding your community.
Facebook Groups alternatives
Given the recent issues with Facebook, companies of all sizes have attempted to replace the core features. Groups, however, is much harder to replace given that people might create their group for a whole bunch of different reasons to serve different people.
Although there is a wide range of online group platforms, finding the perfect replacement for Facebook groups is tricky.
While many of these platforms mimic some of Facebook group’s behaviour, not all of them fully adopt the whole suite of Facebook Group’s features.
Yahoo community pros and cons
Yahoo Groups has a wide user base and offers some of the same features and benefits as Facebook groups. However, Yahoo groups tend to serve a more serious and technical audience.
Pros of Yahoo community
- You can invite members by email.
- You can send daily digest messages for those who opt in.
Cons of Yahoo community
- Message attachments are not stored in the group.
- 750kb limit size.
- Your users have to deal with ads when using the platform.
- Reddit community pros and cons.
Reddit community pros and cons
Pros of Reddit community
- Reddit is completey free to use.
- Open source.
- Easy to use.
Cons of Reddit community
- When you have a large community on Reddit, you’ll run into difficulties in terms of moderating the content.
- One core issue with Reddit is the high risk of spam.
- Cliques can bury content they don’t agree with
- If you want to use live streams or video chats, you’ll have to use third-party software.
Whatsapp community pros and cons
Although not an actual social network, Whatsapp groups have often been used to collect like-minded people together in the same group. The instant messaging platform is often used by business owners who want to connect with like-minded people. One of the attractions to using Whatsapp as a community platform is the encrypted messaging service. However, if privacy is an issue, it’s important to note that Facebook owns Whatsapp and has the ability to extract metadata from users.
Pros of Watsapp community
- Private community.
- Can broadcast messages to lots of people at once within your group chats.
- Free to use.
Cons of Watsapp community
- You need people to give you their personal mobile number to join your group chats.
- Can be difficult to go back through messages if you have a lot of group members as messages come through in chronological order and there is no option for threaded messages.
- Lack of privacy settings as everyone’s numbers are public for those in the whatsapp group. Many people won’t be comfortable sharing their personal data with strangers.
- Most people use Whatsapp groups for conversations with their close friends and personal connections.
What are the best alternatives to Facebook groups?
Those are just three of the many reasons why Community Managers are looking for new, alternatives to Facebook groups to engage, manage and monetise their communities. Disciple was founded to solve these issues and deliver an owned media alternative to Facebook Groups.
Disciple was built for Community Managers who are disillusioned with Facebook and other big social platforms. You may be leaving Facebook because you’re not able to reach your audience. Or perhaps Facebook is preventing you from making money or raising donations.
Whatever your reasons are for seeking an alternative, Disciple can build you a customised, mobile-first solution. Our platform takes all the best bits of social media and makes it easy, quick and affordable for you to engage, manage and monetise your community in your own, safe, dedicated mobile space.
People are finally starting to realize that Facebook, despite the wide reach, isn’t all it cracked up to be. If you’re in the business of community building, looking for an alternative to Facebook groups, now has never been a better time to consider your options.
If you want to own your own data, give your users the privacy respect they deserve and explore better ways to grow and build your community – your own hosted platform might be the next best step.
Are you looking for alternatives to Facebook Groups? We have the comprehensive community solution you’re looking for. Book a demo call with one of our Community Specialists.